Soil microbial communities are largely uncharacterized, yet this uncharacterized diversity is responsible for key soil functions, such as decomposition of organic matter, biogeochemical cycling of essential macronutrients and minerals, and maintenance of soil structure. Despite this importance, in the past, limited attention has been given to fundamental research of the interaction between soil microbes and plants. In general, soil is greatly underappreciated part of the ecosystems, often considered as dirty and valueless, however gaining in relevance by the better understanding of the connection between biodiversity, soil health and its beneficial ecosystem services.
Our research focuses on soil ecology, with the main stress on diversity, ecology and function of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Arbuscular mycorrhiza is a symbiotic relationship between plants and AM fungi (phylum Glomeromycota). The majority of all terrestrial plants receive inorganic nutrients indirectly from symbiotic associations with AM fungi, via efficient exploration of the soil by fungal hyphae, and not by a direct uptake from the soil by plant roots. Therefore, arbuscular mycorrhizas may play a large role in sustainable agriculture in the future, also in the light of depletion of the global phosphate reserves that come from a limited resource http://phosphorusfutures.net.
Research focus in our group:
• SCOPES Project – Biodiversity of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi and its Importance for Sustainable Land-use in Selected Areas of Balkan Peninsula (BALKANAM)